Bad timing can make the best of us look like fools.
George Melly has the humility to point out his own turn as History's joke, in Revolt Into Style, (1971) his groundbreaking study of popular culture of the fifties and sixties. George quotes himself in an Article for the then-young New Society Magazine in October 1962, as readable as he always was, and making smart, funny and pointed observations, he came a cropper when he saw what he thought was the future of pop music.
He was suitably dismissive of the anodyne pap that filled the charts in the backwash of Rock & Roll and Skiffle: the various clean cut Bobbys (Vee, Vinton, Rydell etc.), Helen Shapiro, and the stuff of Children’s Favourites. The only interesting stuff he saw in the charts were the hard-edged and witty songs about real life from the likes of Bernard Cribbens (Hole in The Ground and Right Said Fred) Anthony Newley (Pop Goes the Weasel) and Mike Sarne (Come Outside), all using an early form of that adapted, adopted Cockney of Youth, later pinned-down as Estuary English or Mockney .
Spare a thought for George: in the 1971 book, he graciously owned up to his mis-prediction. He didn’t try to mitigate his faults at all, although he could have. Yes, he should have spotted the potential of the proto-Beatles playing interval beat sets at then-jazz-club The Cavern when he played there: and the Beat and Blues Booms (led by the Fabs and the Stones) scoured a lot of rubbish out of the British (and international) music charts: but there was a lot of prosaic wit and humour still around in the world of beat music. Ray Davies of the Kinks moved rapidly from ersatz R&B to British barbed whimsy as the sixties progressed. And both Freddie and the Dreamers and Herman’s Hermits developed successful pop-comedy formulas. You might not like me including minnows like Peter Noone and Freddie Garrity in with cultural blue whales like John, Paul, Mick and Keef, but remember, I’m talking about how things looked then, not how they look from here. I will draw a veil over the Barron Knights.
Here’s Mike’s hit Come Outside, with vocal contributions from Wendy “Miss Brahms” Richard. I can’t seem to think of her as “Pauline Fowler” at all. Maybe it’s just my age, or maybe the performance on the record is much more Miss Brahms to Mike’s Mr. Lucas/Trevor Bannister character. And who was Trevor Bannister replaced by on AYBS? Mike Berry—a sixties pop star! It’s all coming together. A bit.
Download Mike Sarne – Come Outside MP3 (rapidshare)
What? Not enough about Mike? Well he had a few more minor hits like Just for Kicks, Code of Love (which i can’t find), acted a bit, in The Avengers, Man In A Suitcase, and The Bill: and he directed a few films, most notably Myra Breckinridge.
Oh look: here's Judge Dread's dismally unfunny rude version.